Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

Posts Tagged: Larry Godfrey

UC ANR and San Joaquin Valley cotton growers join forces to prevent sticky cotton in 2015

Cotton farmers will be carefully monitoring and treating for sweet potato whitefly during the 2015 growing season.
Last fall Kerman cotton farmer Paul Betancourt got a call from the gin manager where his crop was being processed and his heart dropped. The gin found sticky cotton.

“It's like having an embarrassing social disease,” Betancourt said. “We want to do better, and we need your help.”

Betancourt was appealing to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and other experts who were gathered with him at the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association annual meeting in Visalia. UC ANR entomology specialist Larry Godfrey had begun the pest management session with a somber message. The whiteflies that cotton growers had been controlling reasonably well for more than 20 years was suddenly posing a tremendous challenge.

“I don't know what's up,” said Godfrey, who is housed in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis. “It's a different critter.”

Betancourt attested to Godfrey's conclusions. He observed a few whiteflies in the field during the summer of 2013. It was a minor problem. In 2014, he decided to be more aggressive with monitoring and treating for the pest.

“I doubled down last year, but we had a bigger problem with whiteflies,” he said. “I thought, ‘This just can't happen!'”

Whiteflies feed on plant sap and then excrete honeydew. The sweet, sticky honeydew settles on open cotton bolls. If sticky cotton makes its way to spinning mills, it gums up the machinery. It's a scenario that mill managers won't soon forget.

Because of the San Joaquin Valley's long, dry growing season, cotton farmers have earned a reputation for high-quality, high value cotton, said Roger Isom, the CEO of the California Cotton Growers and Ginners Association. Sticky cotton is major concern.

“It happened in Arizona and almost destroyed the state's cotton industry,” Isom said. “Sticky cotton brings mills to a standstill. If they start getting sticky cotton, they'll decide to stop buying from the area where it came from. And once you have the stigma, it's extremely hard to overcome.”

Godfrey said the new biotype of sweet potato whitefly was first found in the San Joaquin Valley in July 1992. Certain areas required careful management, such as those closer to cities where it is warmer and the pest can spend the winter on ornamental plants. Farmers were able to deal with it.

“Then, in 2013 and 2014, populations of whitefly developed in other parts of the San Joaquin Valley, not only adjacent to cities. We don't know why or exactly what is going on,” Godfrey said.

Initially, pest control advisers suspected the whitefly was developing pesticide resistance. UC ANR research trials at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points and the Shafter Research Station in Kern County showed that insecticides used at label rates were still able to knock down the pest.

“What we did notice was we had a lot more whitefly and we started seeing them earlier than normal,” Godfrey said. “It certainly makes it more expensive to grow cotton and, if not controlled, makes sticky cotton.”

What's worse, the reputation of cotton in a whole area is tarnished if one or two farmers mismanage the pest and their cotton gets into commercial channels.

“In my area, we have a problem right now and it's not just my problem,” Betancourt said. “Everybody who has whiteflies has to deal with them. We have a reputation to uphold.”

All the growers who send cotton to the same gin as Betancourt will be invited to meet with UC ANR scientists Godfrey and Pete Goodell, integrated pest management advisor, to strategize about whitefly control for 2015.

Godfrey said they will emphasize the importance of early management and treatment, sharing lessons learned in Arizona.

“The scientists there did a lot of really good work on quantifying an infestation and determining when to treat,” Godfrey said. “We are taking their recommendations and studying where we might need to make changes due to California growing conditions.”

Goodell said it is critically important for growers to take the threat of sticky cotton seriously.

“We can't reiterate enough, once you develop a poor reputation for sticky cotton, it sticks with you,” Goodell said.

An initiative to manage endemic and invasive pests and diseases is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.

Additional resources:

Goodell webinar on Preventing Sticky Cotton.

Godfrey research report PDF attached below:

Posted on Monday, March 23, 2015 at 9:24 AM

Rice pest problems were minimal in 2012

World demand for rice is growing. Shown above, flooded rice fields in the Sacramento Valley.
Rice insects and diseases were minimal or easy to control this year, reported Larry Godfrey, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis, at a rice field day in Biggs, Calif., according to an article in Western Farm Press.

Godfrey reached that conclusion even though he trapped 10 times more rice water weevils in his control trials this season than in 2011, the article said.

Tadpole shrimp populations also were high this season and damage was evident. Godfrey believes they were excessive due to the winter dry period. It took longer for growers to flood fields due to the dry spring soil conditions and that contributed to the higher shrimp population.

Godfrey is testing insecticides Coragen and Belay to control these pests. Coragen is several years from registration. Belay is entangled in a honey bee kill issue so the state and federal governments are asking for more testing.

Godfrey was a presenter at a recent rice field day at the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation, Inc., Rice Experiment Station. World demand for rice, the article said, will only grow more voracious.

Posted on Monday, September 17, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Tags: Larry Godfrey (11), Rice (16)

Why Flies Are Fantastic

Tachinid fly (Peleteria species) on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

You want to know why flies are fantastic?They are, you know. Just ask Martin Hauser of the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of...

Tachinid fly (Peleteria species) on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Tachinid fly (Peleteria species) on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Tachinid fly (Peleteria species) on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 8:02 PM

BYOB Doesn't Mean What You Think

Bugs R Us

BYOB doesn't mean what you think it does. Ask any entomology student and it means "Bring Your Own Bug." And that's exactly what the UC Davis...

Bugs R Us
Bugs R Us

UC DAVIS Department of Entomology faculty member Larry Godfrey (right) answers questions about bugs. Behind him are Meredith Cenzer and Matan Shelomi. (Photo of Good Day Sacramento TV screen by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

About That Insect...
About That Insect...

TV ANCHOR Mark Mathias (left) quizzes Ralph Washington (right) about Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Next to him is Andrew Merwin. (Photo of Good Day Sacramento TV screen by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 8:54 PM

Distinguished Service, Distinguished Awards


Excellent work!We're glad to see that three noted entomologists at the University of California, Davis, received distinguished awards in their...

Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 6:19 PM

First storyPrevious 5 stories  |  Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: